From its humble beginning nine years ago as an opportunity for the business community to gather for prayer and breakfast before the work day, the annual Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast has grown into a two-day event (this year Sept. 15-16) that will likely draw more than 2,500 people.
Last year a youth rally the afternoon prior to the breakfast was added — and well received, so much so that this year’s rally attendance is expected to far exceed last year’s 600.
“The suggestion came from [2013 presenter] Matthew Kelly, who has such a passion for youth,” says Tom Romano, one of the founders of the LACPB. “He resonated well with the kids, and they responded enthusiastically to him.”
This year’s “Cool 2b Catholic” youth rally promises to once again bring positive energy and excitement to attendees, according to featured speaker Carmelite Sister Regina Marie Gorman.
“It’s going to be a fun and joyful evening,” Sister Gorman says, “one that will challenge young people where they are right now — today.” Nationally known for her inspirational retreats and spiritual talks, Sister Gorman has served as Vicar General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles and chair of the board for the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. In addition to her deep spirituality and wealth of knowledge, she is known for her quick sense of humor.
“If life isn’t fun, we need to make it so,” she says, adding that the Carmelite sisters intend to have fun joining the Jacob and Matthew Band in some of the music for the rally.
In her talk, “For Greater Things You Were Born” (which will also be her presentation at the breakfast the next morning), her intent is to remind young people of “the gift that they are and that they have right now” in their lives.
“It is unfathomable what they can do with and for Christ — right now,” Sister Gorman asserts. “They have the capacity and power already. This generation hears more words than any previous generation, and we need to be sure they hear the Word.”
Archbishop José Gomez will welcome the attendees at the rally which will take place Sept. 15, 4-6 p.m. on the Cathedral Plaza. Tickets are free courtesy of a generous donation from the Daniel Murphy Foundation, and required for admission. Interested youth can register through their high school or online.
The Tenth Anniversary Catholic Prayer Breakfast at the Cathedral on Sept. 16, begins with rosary at 6:30 a.m., then Mass at 7 a.m. with Archbishop José Gomez presiding, and the breakfast and presentation by Sister Gorman at 8 a.m.
“We have grown every single year from the beginning,” says Margie Romano, co-founder of the Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast. “We are thankful for the support of our archbishop and the regional bishops. Last year we had record attendance, and our goal this year is for 2,000 attendees.”
While attendance has grown, so have the ministries serving the Mass. In particular, the choir, under the direction of Paul Puccinelli — director of liturgy and music at St. Rita in Sierra Madre — will be larger and more diverse this year.
“When I was asked to direct the music for this event a few years ago I invited my parish choir to participate,” Puccinelli explains. “Last year I extended the invitation to local parishes.”
This year — inspired by Sister Gorman — he has also invited women religious to join the combined choirs, including the Carmelites, Sisters of Charity, Poor Clare Missionary Sisters and Trinitarians of Mary, creating a choir of both lay and vowed religious music ministers. The response, he says, has been wonderful.
The entrance hymn of the Mass will be an original composition of Puccinelli’s, one he wrote for his parish, and that fits the theme of this year’s Prayer Breakfast. In addition, he has written a fanfare for organ and two trumpets in honor of the tenth anniversary that will lead into the entrance hymn.
Tickets for the L.A. Catholic Prayer Breakfast ($35 in advance, $45 at the door) are available online (http://www.lacatholicpb.org). Tickets for the Sept. 15 youth rally are free but must be reserved in advance and are required for admission.